By Satya Tammareddy
Travspire had the opportunity to speak to Benjamine Oberoi, owner and manager of Casa Piccola Cottage, a heritage hotel located in the heart of Bangalore, and founder of the Casa Foundation, which supports local NGOs in obtaining finance for projects.
Read the full interview HERE
In the cosy cottages of the Casa Piccola Cottage heritage hotel adjoining the narrowing Clapham Road in Bengaluru, 58 year-old Benjamine Oberoi is having a busy morning with clients checking in and out. Dressed in asalwar kameez and speaking busily to staff, Oberoi’s entrepreneurial spirit sparkles as she offers personal attention to every customer.
A French national who settled in India 30 years ago and who travels to remote corners of the country to work with NGOs just because she “feels good” and gets to “meet nice people”, she is truly unconventional and unique. Oberoi has contributed to the social sector over the past three decades by serving as a bridge between international fund donors and NGOs in rural parts of the country. She is currently working in villages in Tamil Nadu with NGOs such as SEVAI (Society for Education Village Action & Improvement) and Gramiyam. In an interview with Ramya Srinivasan, Oberoi talks about her move to India and her work. Excerpts:
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Away from the glass and glitter and the concrete high-rise of brash Bangalore, tucked into the folds and meanders of old Richmond Town, sits Casa Cottage. Surrounded by a garden, set well away from the gate at 2 Clapham Street, its eaves and lattices painted ochre and white, the house is a colonial style bungalow that looks welcoming. Eighteen large rooms offer travellers a unique living experience away from the city’s harsh realities.
“This building was very dilapidated when we bought it 10 years ago,” says Benjamine Oberoi, a Frenchwoman who first came to India in 1978 to do her Ph.D. in child psychology at the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS). “This house once belonged to an Anglo-Indian lady who was the florist for the entire community. She did the flowers for all the christenings, weddings and funerals. She lived alone. Her heirs were in England and the property fell into disrepair. We found that the walls and foundation were solid and we decided to restore the building to its former glory,” says Oberoi in her easy, no-nonsense way.
You can read the full article here